Speak up to close Aboriginal Cancer survival gap

Media Release -21 April 2010

Barriers to health care have resulted in Aboriginal people being three times more likely to die from some cancers than other people living in NSW.

Cancer Council NSW has revealed the figures as it encourages Aboriginal people to join a new study investigating why this gap exists in cancer death rates and what measures are needed to close it across the state.

Research from other states has shown that Aboriginal people in remote communities often had their cancer diagnosed later and they received less treatment than non-Aboriginal people with the same types of disease.

Now, Cancer Council’s study will focus on the cancer death rate gap that exists for Aboriginal people in NSW, and in particular those living in urban communities where there is good access to hospitals and cancer care facilities.

“Lack of transport to treatment centres, limited childcare facilities and feelings of isolation while undergoing treatments are some of the barriers that we believe may prevent Aboriginal people from accessing healthcare,” Dr Andrew Penman, CEO of Cancer Council NSW said.

“These issues are putting lives at risk, with NSW’s Aboriginal population being up to three times* more likely to die from some types of cancer, and 60 per cent more likely to die from all cancer types combined than non-Aboriginal people.

“We now need Aboriginal people to join our study so that we can understand why this cancer death rate is so high.   Your participation could help us to remove any barriers to treatment and improve the unacceptable survival rate from cancer.”

The study is open to Aboriginal cancer survivors, carers of Aboriginal people affected by cancer and Aboriginal Health Workers.     For more information, call 1800 247 029 (calls are free) to speak with an Aboriginal liaison officer.   Participation involves a face-to-face interview at a convenient location,

Cancer Council NSW is conducting the research in collaboration with the Universities of Sydney and NSW, and several of the researchers are Aboriginal.   It is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Cancer information is available at www.cancercouncil.com.au.

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Media contact:

Luke Alexander (02) 9334 1878 / 0413 886 578

Notes to editors

  • Lung cancer is the most common cancer death in Aboriginal men who are 50 per cent more likely to die from the disease than non-Aboriginal men.   Meanwhile, for women the figure is double.
  • *Death rates are three times higher amongst Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people for the following cancers: oesophageal for men and kidney and cervix for women